Hantavirus case linked to home featured on TLC’s “Hoarders”

Posted at 7:53 AM, Sep 10, 2012
and last updated 2012-09-10 07:54:34-04

THE WOODLANDS, TX (WTVR) - The hantavirus has made headlines since three people died after contracting it at Yosemite National Park, now another possible case has been reported--this time on the set of a reality show filming in Texas.

A person contracted the hantavirus while cleaning out a Woodlands home set to be featured in an episode of TLC's show "Hoarders:Buried Alive." All 29 people who helped the homeowner clean out her home have been put on alert--notified that they could come down with it too.

The hantavirus can only be contracted from rodents or their excrement. Its symptoms are similar to the flu--and there is no cure.

"It can be fatal, in fact the mortality rates over the past 20 years have ranged from about 20 percent up to 50 percent," said Dr. Mark Escott, Medical Director of Montgomery County's Health Department.

"Over the past 20 years, there have only been a few dozen cases in Texas, about 600 nationwide. There has never been a case in Montgomery County."

Since it cannot be spread from person to person, neighbors are not worried. At the same time , however,  they're also not surprised about the home it came from.

"There had been times when it has been clean," said neighbor Maria Celaya. "Neighbor and then six months would go by and those weeds are taller than us. And, you know, so yeah, it was bad."

That's why the community volunteered to help the family clean out the home, but now, they say that a woman close to the family is sick.

Doctors say it's possible others may still be infected. Symptoms can take up to six weeks to show and the cleanup began in late august. Right now, no one is allowed inside the home.